Korean Drama Review: Hyde, Jekyll, Me

kdrama-hydeHyde, Jekyll, Me (also titled Hyde, Jekyll, and I) could have been far more awesome than it actually was. It opened with such great promise, but episode after episode, the promise fizzled into just-another-kdrama.

Goo Seo Jin (played by Hyun Bin from Secret Garden) is the owner of the amusement park called Wonderland. Seo Jin hates fun, excitement, or any kind of commotion. Why is he such a selfish fuddy duddy? Because he’s desperately trying to stay calm to stave off his “affliction.”

We understand from the title that this is a Jekyll and Hyde story, but just how that storyline will play out in this adaptation and if it will be fantasy, science fiction, or medically and scientifically plausible in explanation is unknown in the opening episodes. And actually, that unknown factor was a great draw for me in the beginning, so I’ll save any such discussion until later and mark it as a possible spoiler.

Jang Ha Na (played by Han Ji Min) arrives back at Wonderland in episode one to run Wonderland’s circus. Her father used to run the circus at Wonderland, she grew up helping him and has spent the last few years in Los Vegas working at similar shows. She’s eager to return home and institute all her ideas and things she’s learned. And she’s just in time to save everyone from a gorilla attack. Yep, you read that right. Gorilla attack. But a sweet gorilla that she grew up hanging out with as part of the circus show.

Seo Jin, however, is cutting the circus troupe from Wonderland’s repertoire. Conflict!

The other side of Seo Jin’s Jekyll/Hyde is Robin, an easy going guy who’s purpose in life seems to be rescuing people. Ha Na meets Robin and quickly falls in love with his warm, open persona while hating Seo Jin’s cold, closed personality more each day. Of course, they’re the same person.

The opening episodes are full of interesting uses of the amusement park and circus atmosphere. Not only is there the gorilla running around through the theme park, but Ha Na does a little bit of leaping around and sliding down ropes stretched between buildings. But these little touches fade away, and by the series midpoint, it’s been all but forgotten that Ha Na has any more physical abilities than the average woman. There’s even an instance of kidnapping where a woman with acrobatic training could certainly figure out a way to get to the high window with using all the stuff in the warehouse she’s trapped in, but nope. She’s uber ineffectual when presented with a physical problem. Bah.

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS] The series delves slightly into psychology, psychiatry, and mental disorders, namely dissociative identity disorder. This is how the show explains the occurrence of Seo Jin’s Jekyll/Hyde personalities. Robin, they claim, is a second personality within Seo Jin that Seo Jin created to feel less helpless in his own life. There’s also a lot of hypnoses throughout the show. Not entirely sure how I feel about the portrayal of mental health and the mental health professionals in this show. [END OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

Recommended with reservations. Overall, it was an all right show. While I’m not sounding very enthusiastic, there was nothing about this show that made me want to stop watching it but I won’t be re-watching it anytime soon.

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